A coalition of mothers, lawmakers, and public safety advocates held a Mother’s Day of Action at the New York State Capitol on Wednesday, May 4, which began with a press conference at the Million Dollar Staircase. Speakers honored New York families impacted by government violence and called on legislators to pass S 1991, the bill to end qualified immunity (QI) in the state. Recent polling shows that a majority of New Yorkers, 58 percent, favor abolishing qualified immunity.
A series of lobby meetings took place following the press conference, where Mother’s Day of Action speakers handed out 200 bouquets of black roses to lawmakers. Each bouquet had the names of those who’ve lost their lives at the hands of rogue public officials. The advocates hope these bouquets will be a somber reminder of the tragic cost that comes with keeping QI in place.
“The fight to end qualified immunity can’t wait; too many Black and Brown families continue to suffer without any path for justice or retribution because of this obscure legal doctrine,” said Senator Robert Jackson, sponsor of S 1991, at the Mother’s Day of Action press conference. “Accountability is what we need as a state and as a community. Like many, I am conscious that this doctrine is dangerous; we must act; let’s end qualified immunity now. We will continue pushing to make sure this bill passes during this session. We all must participate actively to achieve this; it is a matter of civil rights.”
“It’s not over; still trying to heal…imagine a world where the person who created harm was held accountable to the people who were harmed: no excessive force, no qualified immunity, no wrong door,” said Emerald Garner, Eric Garner’s daughter, founder and executive director of We Can’t Breathe Inc. “That’s how we bring the peace to our communities.”
“As a proud co-sponsor of S 1991—legislation that would end the pernicious practice of qualified immunity that currently shields police officers from being held responsible for illegal, improper, and criminal acts—I stand with the courageous mothers who have come to Albany today to demand justice. May their hearts be comforted by this movement, and may we all join in unison to ensure that this bill is passed in their names,” said Senator Cordelle Cleare.
“With just a few weeks left of session, time is running out to pass this critical piece of legislation,” said Assemblymember Kenny Burgos. “Qualified immunity has prevented law enforcement officials from being held accountable for misconduct. Furthermore, it continues to tear families apart and deny justice to the victims. We all need to come together and fix this broken system. Let’s end qualified immunity now.”